Breaking the Silence, Fup by Jim Dodge

こんにちは みんなさん! (Hello all!)
Gosh I have not been around for a while, haven’t I? Almost feels like I need to learn all this blogging thing all over again! See, the problem is, truthfully, I have not been able to finish a single book these couple of months (except for one which I’m gonna talk a bit later). I kinda blame the tube trips. My tube trip now takes about 25 minutes one way, as opposed to 45 minutes back in Sydney. And I find it really hard to sink into a narrative book in that little time frame. Also, I’m seated on the journey to work, but NOT on the way back, because it is soooo crowded. In fact –this is a new thing for me– they sometimes close the gates to the tubes for overcrowding! So people need to wait on the street until the crowds inside ease out a bit and the gates reopened. (I have since found a solution to the gate blocking problem. Instead of leaving from the office at 6:30, I leave at 6:40 and that 10 minutes makes a difference.) But still, the tubes are crazy packed that I more often than not need to stand up. Standing up in full warm tube does not exactly make a conducive reading environment, does it?

So instead of reading a book, I read the free newspapers. Now the free papers are kinda new to me too. In Australia we have one free paper, and that’s only in the evening, only available in the city area. The free paper MX is quite thin and mostly contains unimportant things, like magazine in a form of newspaper: gossip, light news, horoscope. But in London, there are one free paper in the morning from suburban area, and one in the evening. There is also a free magazine every Wednesday which I quite like (Stylist). The papers here are quite thick, and feel almost like real paid newspapers (actually I never pay for newspapers, so I don’t know what they’re really like). Okay, after a couple months, I started to notice that they contain mostly either murders or what Kate is wearing that day, but other random bits and pieces are perfect for the rather short tube rides I have.

Apart from the free papers, I read travel books, photography books, Japanese language learning books, I listen to podcasts. At home I read cookbooks and watch movies on my laptop (no TV yet). Anything but sinking into long period of reading. Especially at home, there’s far too much distraction for me to settle. Therefore I find non fiction to be a lot easier for dipping in and out. I get frustrated with fiction, with how slow my progress is by reading only a few pages in the morning.  I started a few books and have not finished any. I don’t want to name names, because I think it’s me, not the books!

Now going back to the one I did finish. There’s good reason for that. It’s only 89 pages long, with a few illustrations. The book is tiny. Has almost no weight. So on a good day I could even read it on one hand standing up. And it was given lent to me by a friend before I left Sydney. I think it’s very sweet to lend a book to someone before they go on a long journey. Sort of like saying, we’ll see each other again. (Though in my case he also wrote his address on the last page of the book so that I could send it back…) He asked me to REALLY return it because he can’t find it anywhere else. (Actually that part is not true either because I can see it in amazon.) I said, well what if I don’t return it back. After all I’m going to the other part of the globe. He can’t chase me for it. He said, “Oh you will. I’ve lent it to dozens of people. The book always comes back.”

So, that’s the story how the book came to be. It is Fup by Jim Dodge, an American, set in California. I’m not quite sure why he thought I would like it. It has nothing to do with where I’m going/am. It’s about a cranky old grandaddy and his grandson Tiny, a gentle giant young man, living in the farm. Grandaddy is obsessed with home brewed whisky and Tiny with making fences. And then there is Fup, a big duck, who is part of the family.

I wasn’t quite sure about the whole granddaddy grandson thing at the beginning, but I loooved it when the duck has come into the picture. The dynamic between the three characters is so endearing. I had many grins and laughs and heartwarming moments. At the end I’m still not sure what the whole point is, but I think it’s a lovely little book and I know why my friend liked it. It’s got him written all over it.

So, thanks Matt!

4 stars
1997, 89 pp

“You know, I’ve seen 30,000 sunsets, and no two that I can remember have ever been the same. What more can we possibly want?” ~ Seven Moons, p67

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One thought on “Breaking the Silence, Fup by Jim Dodge”

  1. Jackie (Farm Lane Books) says:
    8 August 2011 at 11:47 am

    I’m having trouble finishing books at the moment too. It sounds as though I’m doing slightly better than you though – I think I’ve finished 4 in the last month :-)

    I find it very hard to read on the tube and so normally stick to the papers too. Audio books are about the only solution if you’re on a packed carriage, but I can see how the background noise might make them hard too. I hope you find some time for reading soon.

    mee says:
    13 August 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Jackie, yes the tube is surprisingly noisy! I’m not a fan of audio book so I usually listen to podcasts which I guess is sort of audio version of magazines or papers :)

    JoV says:
    11 August 2011 at 8:36 am

    I know what you mean. When I travel the quiet way to Bracknell, I read much more than on the train to London now. Those shorter commuter time do cut down on reading and I’m not big on Audio.
    The free reading materials are abundance in London and I quite like “Stylist” but have missed two weeks now because of going out from another station at the North. What about free Readers Digest (to persuade you to subscribe for £12 for 12 issues? :) Don’t you get that as well?

    Anyway, we all read in different forms, it doesn’t has to be books!

    mee says:
    13 August 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Jo, I’ve never seen the free Readers Digest. Is it a Paddington thing? :) But in any way I’m never a fan of Readers Digest (though I never really try to read it too). They always feel a bit scammy, with the great sounding offers which if you read closer are not true. I get Stylist from Ealing. I don’t get it only if I leave home a bit later than usual. I don’t think I see it in Oxford Circus (or they may run out by the time I get there). They have book related articles often, which I like :)
    JoV says:
    13 August 2011 at 5:31 pm

    I would expect every station to have Readers Digest handed out. I agree with you that offers in RD seems a bit of a scam when I was reading it in Asia (scratch card etc), but I hardly see any in the UK edition and they still offer the conventional free book of “How to improve your memory” or “How to clean almost everything in your house” as subscription offer. LOL :D Just like when I was a kid and my mom had one of that memory book!

    I like Stylist book related articles. it’s really good. I don’t take “Shortlist” or “Sports” though, a bit of masculine slant in those two free mags at the station. So where is the time for books?! ;)
    mee says:
    13 August 2011 at 7:39 pm

    I don’t think so. I don’t see RS in Ealing or Oxford Circus. I never read in Asia, but in Australia they always have this free cash offer or whatever if you subscribe, which is highly suspicious hahaa (and I did fall for that long time ago when I was a student :P).

    Same here, I don’t take Shortlist or Sports (are they by the same company with Stylist?). I tried them but they didn’t interest me much (and yeah, enough of the free reading materials! When would I read my own?! :)

    stujallen says:
    11 August 2011 at 5:20 pm

    nice to see you back I found my rhythm broke recently ,hope you get it back mee ,all the best stu

    mee says:
    13 August 2011 at 12:13 pm

    stu, thanks! I think we all need a break sometimes ;)

    Michelle says:
    19 August 2011 at 10:27 am

    Hey you. Hope you’re getting settled there in the UK. Love the babble before you talked about the book proper, it’s always nice to know what the people we know have been up to, even though we’ve never met! =)

    And I love the picture of the book, with your blog in the background. Lovely photo.

    Definitely know what you mean about needing to relearn blogging all over again. I’ve been gone for much longer than you have, and it’s mostly for the same reason – I haven’t been reading much. Sigh. I’m still hoping to post something real soon, I’ve got *some* time these couple of days.

    So anyway, again, nice to see you back!

    mee says:
    24 August 2011 at 12:25 am

    Hey Michelle! Glad to hear from you. I’m not sure if I would consider myself “back”. Maybe more like dropping by occasionally ;). I like that I have this outlet to put my bookish thoughts (and sometimes other things) and especially that I have made some lovely friends from it, but going “full-time” blogging is getting too exhausting. It is far too time consuming, more than what I’m willing to give these days. Not sure if it’s just a phase or not. We’ll just have to see. (and I used “full-time blogging” term loosely, since I never even spent that much time on my blog anyway ;)

    Now I just checked that you have a new post! So I’m gonna go there now :)

    Novroz says:
    9 September 2011 at 11:32 pm

    I didn’t realize you have new post as it has been abandoned for some times. Welcome back then :)
    You”re reading Japanese lesson book,are you going to take shiken this year?

    mee says:
    10 September 2011 at 9:30 pm

    I have abandoned this blog haven’t I? Guilty as charged! :)
    JLPT N3 をしようと思っているんですよ。でも今年はちょと。。多分来年です。がんばるがんばるね。
    My Japanese is super rusty for a couple of years of abandonment, so I’m trying to get it going again. Lots of work to do -__-

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